Its club-record unbeaten streak at an end, Minnesota United looks to get back on track in a busy stretch of schedule Wednesday night when it hosts the Colorado Rapids.
This is the third of four matches in a 13-day stretch for the Loons (11-5-8), who are headed to their first U.S. Open Cup final in franchise history later this month at reigning MLS Cup champion Atlanta. Faced with a short turnaround after its semifinal win over Portland, a largely overturned side put up a good fight Saturday in the sweltering heat of Texas before losing 5-3 to FC Dallas.
Ethan Finlay had a first-half brace and Minnesota still had hopes for a point after Hassani Dotson pulled the Loons level at 3-all on 73 minutes, but they conceded twice after the 85th minute and lost for the first time in 12 matches across all competitions (9-2-1).
“A big week is coming up with a game Wednesday and Saturday,” coach Adrian Heath told the team’s official website. “Two home games which we think are going to be huge for us. We have four games in like 13 days, so we had to do something. Overall, I just thought in the second half we showed a bit more of belief, more character and a bit more of positiveness.
“I think the group let themselves down a little bit, because we are better than what we showed even though we made eight changes in the lineup from the last game.”
Mason Toye, who scored the match-winner in the semifinal cup win, picked up a red card in stoppage time and is suspended for this match. Minnesota slipped to third in the West on 38 points, one behind Seattle for second, but only two better than FC Dallas for the seventh and final playoff spot.
The Loons have quickly made Allianz Field a fortress in their first season there, going 10-4-1 and carrying an eight-match unbeaten streak (7-1-0) in all competitions. Keeper Vito Mannone has a 235-minute shutout streak in league play at home, not conceding a goal in seven consecutive halves and recording three straight shutouts.
Colorado’s playoff hopes are rapidly dwindling as the Rapids (7-5-12) enter this contest 10 points behind FC Dallas with 10 matches remaining. Conor Casey’s team, though, is looking for its first three-match winning streak of the year after defeating the Earthquakes 2-1 on Saturday night.
Diego Rubio continued his purple patch of scoring with the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, slotting a shot from the top of the penalty area inside the left post. The Chilean striker, who also assisted on Kellyn Acosta’s first-half goal, has found the back of the net in three straight matches and has scored six of his seven goals on the season in his last eight games.
“It’s a great win and now we have four games away,” Rubio told the team’s official website. “We are in good shape now, we know each other more. It took us a long time to know each other and I think we’re in a good position. We’re playing better and we’re winning games.”
The Rapids will be challenged to carry their home form to the road, where they have just one win and six points from 10 matches (1-3-6). Colorado is winless in its last four road contests (0-3-1) and has conceded 21 goals while posting only one clean sheet.
Colorado, though, is going for the double after edging Minnesota 1-0 at home June 8. Kei Kamara’s goal in the 29th minute stood as the match-winner as the Rapids have won the last three between the sides.
(Diego Rubio photo courtesy Russell Lansford/USA TODAY Sports)